If you’re interested in teaching English abroad in China, then you’re in for an exciting and rewarding adventure. As a company which specialises in helping people like you teach abroad, we understand what you’re going through. We’ve helped hundreds of people find jobs in China and we hope to do the same for you.
But before you leave for your new country, there are a few important things for you to consider before you teach English in China. Here are a few tips so that you know what to expect before you make the big move!
A guest post by Dimitris Vlachos
5 Things to consider before you teach English in China
1. You Have To Live On A Teacher’s Budget
While it is true that teaching salaries are on the rise in China, there is little wiggle room to live a luxurious lifestyle. Many people who teach abroad do so in order to pay back their college loans, save up, or travel. While you can do these things, you can’t do all of them at once in China like you may be able to in other countries where the salaries are higher.
You’re going to need to choose the lifestyle you wish to live before you go. If you’re teaching in China so that you can travel, then put your extra wages toward day and weekend trips, but you won’t be able to save much. If you wish to pay back your student loans, you can, but you won’t be able to travel as much as you might like. Research the average Chinese ESL salary and use a China cost of living calculator to help you figure out what you’re likely to make and spend.
2. Get A Job Through A Recruiter
Finding a job in China through a recruiter will simplify the process and have a few added benefits as well. Many schools in China do not advertise for teachers online, so it’s hard to see all of the options available to you. Plus, you may never find out what the place you’ll be living in is like until you arrive. Once you find a recruiter you’ll have increased job opportunities, have a picture in mind of what the school is like, and you can earn better benefits and a higher salary.
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3. There’s No Need To Speak Chinese
During your time in China, it’s likely that you’ll want to pick up the language and bring it back home with you. However learning Chinese takes time, so don’t expect to be fluent in the first few months. Start off by going to restaurants which have picture menus and invest in cheap business cards with your address on them.
When you’re ready to learn Chinese, read blog posts about how other’s have learned the language. You can also practice today by using apps like Duolingo. Once you’re there, there are plenty of schools that offer reasonably priced language classes.
4. Understand How To Say ‘No’
Since you’re a tourist, there’s always the fun fact that you’re going to be a target for people looking to make a little extra money. This happens in every country, even the United States. However, you’re likely to stick out as a foreigner and as a result people will try to get you to buy things you don’t need.
Learn how to tell people ‘no’ politely so that you can avoid wasting your money and time. It’s important to not feel pressured or you’ll make a buy just to avoid the awkward situation. It’s okay to say no.
5. What’s Your Skin Colour?
The most awkward thing to consider before your move to China is what your skin colour is. Sadly in Chinese society skin colour still holds weight and if you’re darkly complected, you will occasionally be judged. This is a common problem in many developing nations because some people believe skin colour is associated with social standing.
These situations will always be uncomfortable, but keep in mind that for every bad situation you have, you’ll likely have at least one (or more) heart-warming situation where you’re complemented or cared for. Not everyone judges based on skin colour.
Teaching English in China is going to be one of the highlights of your life. China is a beautiful country with an equally beautiful history and culture that will serve to enrich you for the rest of your life. Knowing these five things will help you to develop a broader understanding of what it’s like to teach and live in China.
Dimitris works as a full stack marketer at Movinhand (site no longer active) which helps educators get the salary they deserve. We promote teachers around the world and get them the best possible offer within 10 days of signing up.
This article was published in May 2017.